Macular degeneration and blue light
March 11, 2012 10:19 PM   Subscribe

Does preventing "blue light" exposure in the context of ocular health also include blue colors on the computer monitor?

I recently became aware that blue light contributed to macular degeneration, and wondered if this included computer monitor colors as well. Regardless, I already switched background colors for Metafilter. Also, the question is slightly complicated by the fact that blue light also enhances moods. Thanks in advance.
posted by Brian B. to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
I have no answer to your specific question, but

Regardless, I already switched background colors for Metafilter.

to "professional white"? that's hasn't reduced the amount of blue being emitted, it's just added red & green to bring the overall colour to white. to remove/reduce the blue component you'd need to shift the colour towards a yellow. (see: here and the associated diagram of additive colour)
posted by russm at 10:47 PM on March 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

to remove/reduce the blue component you'd need to shift the colour towards a yellow.

Good point. So only yellow glasses would do the trick?
posted by Brian B. at 10:51 PM on March 11, 2012

yellow glasses, or you could mess with the colour calibration on your monitor. setting a D50 white point will shift the entire display to a warmer/yellower base. I dunno where you do that in Windows, but on a Mac it's Preferences > Displays > Color > Calibrate.
posted by russm at 11:02 PM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

yellow glasses, or you could mess with the colour calibration on your monitor

I turned down the blue on my LCD and looks yellower, but it only offered red, green, and blue for adjustment. Thanks so far.
posted by Brian B. at 11:19 PM on March 11, 2012

Sunlight is much bluer than normal indoor lighting and far more intense. If indoor and outdoor light levels were identical, the exposure on the blue end of the spectrum you would receive from sunlight would be more than twice the microwatts per lumen you'd receive from fluorescent lighting. But they're not identical — typical lighting levels for mid-day summer sunlight are around 100,000 lux while typical indoor lighting levels are less than 500 lux. Even if you only spend several minutes a day outdoors in sunlight and the rest of the day indoors, the vast majority of your exposure to "blue light" is coming from sunlight. I don't know what the effects of "blue light" exposure is on your ocular health, but if this concerns you I think you are better off investing in a comfortable pair of sunglasses than worrying about the light from your monitor.
posted by RichardP at 11:21 PM on March 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you're concerned about it, and it is a legitimate concern, then yellow glasses are the best as they block blue. Or, the good ones block blue properly.

Changing colors on your LCD screen (or setting the "white point") probably won't help too much. The screen is made of dots of Red, Green, and Blue, with usually 256 levels of each primary color (from "off" to "full brightness" for each). Turn down the overall brightness but don't try to turn the Blue all the way off, because everything will look weird and that causes its own problems with long use. You should be using your computer in a room with appropriate ambient lighting of approximately equal brightness to your screen, so the screen itself is not the huge problem even if that's what you're staring at. It's all the light including the ambient room light.

Sunlight and incandescent bulbs produce a continuous color spectrum. Fluorescent lights don't and they flicker, giving some people headaches just from that. And many types of fluorescents give a coloration that just looks weird. Your brain is not deceiving you. Don't drop and break one...

LED lights produce sharp spikes at certain wavelengths of light, exactly like your LCD screen. The overexcitement in your eye of the certain wavelengths causes retinal fatigue and burnout. Mixing equal levels of Red, Green, and Blue processes as "white" to your brain, but just like your LCD screen or even old CRT screens it is actually three sharp spikes of light wavelengths, not the continuous spectrum our eyes evolved to see.

Although sunlight is far more intense than artificial light found in the home, your pupils adjust to this and your retinal sensitivity adjusts. Wear good sunglasses in sunlight.

The Powers That Be have decided to sacrifice everyone'e eyesight in the false name of "energy efficiency".

30-50 years from now will be a great time to be an eye doctor to charge high consultation fees while being able to do not much. Not much different than now, really, but a larger percentage of the population is going to have major eye trouble caused by the general use of LED bulbs, if that kind is what survives.
posted by caclwmr4 at 11:44 PM on March 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

Sunlight is much bluer than normal indoor lighting and far more intense.

Agreed. And as luminance decreases as an inverse square of distance, you can simply move your head further back from a computer screen to get exponentially less exposure. You could also invest in a large, high-resolution display that you can place further away from you, if you believe this is a real issue.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:51 AM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

F.lux cuts down on blue light from your monitor at night. Helps with sleeping as well.
posted by Elysum at 3:07 AM on March 12, 2012 [5 favorites]

"Blue light" in the article you linked to is ultraviolet light, not the visible spectrum that we perceive of as blue. Modern LCD displays, when tested, have not emitted measurable amounts of UV-B light.
posted by ellF at 4:24 AM on March 12, 2012 [8 favorites]

Also note that blue light can be beneficial, and your eyes already get less sensitive to it as you age.
posted by stopgap at 6:54 AM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

here, as ellF has already said, directly from the article:

For years now, professionals in the fields of light energy and vision have known about the hazards ultraviolet (UV) light presents to ocular health.

What is blue light?

Experts differ as to the exact wavelength of UV light waves, but generally speaking, UV light is defined as that part of the invisible spectrum which ranges from 380nm to 200nm

Yellow glasses and turning your monitor to white and replacing your bulbs will have little to no effect.

UV coating on your glasses
posted by edgeways at 7:16 AM on March 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

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